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EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Supports Economic Development Efforts in East Arkansas

EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Camille Labatut during a meeting with East Arkansas Planning and Development District officials. East Arkansas Planning & Development District (EAPDD) is a regional planning and development agency serving a 12-county area in eastern Arkansas. This district includes Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Greene, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Phillips, Poinsett, Randolph, and St. Francis counties. EAPDD develops programming that addresses areas such as unemployment and distressed economic conditions in their region. To carry out such long-term research and planning functions, EAPDD joined the EDA VISTA Corps program to onboard an AmeriCorps VISTA member to cultivate community buy-in in rural communities.

EAPDD’s selected VISTA member, Camille Labatut, has built local capacity through the creation of an economic database. Data collected includes figures related to top regional employers, business inventories, student enrollment trends, total number of police calls, number of residential water hookups, and community center utilization figures.

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Spotlight: Ranken Technical College Breaks Ground on New Manufacturing Building, Offering Modern Manufacturing Skills, New Ideas, Technologies, and Enterprises for Students

EDA DAS-RA Alvord (second from left) and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (center) at the Randolph County Development Authority grant announcement event Supporting American manufacturing is a major priority for the Trump Administration.

As the President has said, “Made in America is more than a label or a product… It’s a stamp of excellence. It’s a badge of honor and a tribute to the tremendous skill of the working men and women who design and build these incredible masterpieces and different products of all types.”

In St. Louis, Ranken Technical College is working to ensure that the world’s best products will be Made in America by turning out a steady stream of graduates that provide local manufacturers, including those in the automotive, architecture, construction, electrical, and information technology industries, with the skilled workforce they need to succeed.

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Success Story: Excel Boats Rebuilds Manufacturing Center in Mountain View, Arkansas After Tornado Devastation

Excel Boats Excel Boats manufactures a full line of high-end aluminum boats for outdoor recreational enthusiasts. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, Arkansas, approximately 70 miles north of Little Rock.

In 2009, a tornado devastated another Arkansas boat manufacturer: Rivertrail Boat Company of Clinton. All production was closed down and over 30 employees lost their jobs due to the natural disaster.

Glenn Foreman, the American business owner and entrepreneur who owns Excel, bought the company and developed an available space in Mountain View to expand his manufacturing capacity.

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Highlight: EDA Supports U.S. Job Creation Efforts in the Flooring Manufacturing Sector

EDA DAS-RA Alvord (second from left) and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (center) at the Randolph County Development Authority grant announcement event Last year, EDA invested $2.5 million in Assistance to Coal Communities 2017 (ACC 2017) funds in the Randolph County Development Authority of West Virginia to help expand the Armstrong Flooring manufacturing facility in Beverly.

Armstrong Flooring is American-made, using hardwoods sourced in Appalachia for their consistency and stability. Opened in 1989, the Beverly facility produces oak, hickory, and maple pre-finished hardwood flooring and is the largest pre-finished hardwood flooring plant in the country.

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EDA AmeriCorps VISTA Develops Interactive Map to Promote Regional Assets in Lower Rio Grande Valley

Explore RGV Logo In 2017, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC)  a grant for “Explore Rio Grande Valley” (Explore RGV), an interactive platform that showcases the history and attractiveness of South Texas. The project’s goal is to boost regional tourism and promote the active engagement of residents. To enhance the capacity of the team spearheading the Explore RGV project, LRGVDC partnered with the EDA VISTA Corps to onboard Carlos Garza as their first term Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA).Garza has spent the first six months of his AmeriCorps VISTA term working with the LRGVDC team to research the surrounding area and develop a comprehensive asset map of the region. Together the team identified about 500 sites throughout Willacy, Hidalgo and Cameron Counties to include in the program.

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Supporting Local Efforts to Create Great Jobs through Entrepreneurship: EDA Launches 2018 Regional Innovation Strategies Program Competition

EDA Logo Guided by the basic principle that sustainable economic development should be locally-driven, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) works directly with communities and regions to help them build capacity for economic development based on local business conditions. EDA’s flexible suite of programs support the implementation of locally-devised economic development strategies to address a continuum of economic development challenges – from planning and technical assistance, to infrastructure construction - that make it easier for businesses to start and grow.

At the heart of these businesses are some of America’s most creative and hardworking dreamers and doers: entrepreneurs! Embodying the American spirit, these intrepid individuals tirelessly push forward every day, breaking barriers with innovative technologies and services to create the high-skill, high-wage jobs that help advance the U.S. economy.

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Spotlight: IEDC’s National Economic Development Week Celebrations

IEDC’s Economic Development Week Logo and Inspiration National Economic Development Week (#EconDevWeek), which took place May 7 to May 12 this year, was created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 in order to increase awareness of local programs that create jobs, advance career development opportunities and increase the quality of life.

Over the span of two years, more than 500 National Economic Development Week campaigns have been created throughout the United States and Canada, creating millions of impressions, hundreds of news stories, blog entries, videos, events and many, many activities. Campaigns occurred in all 50 American states in 2017. More than 40 communities officially proclaimed the celebration week by signing resolutions, and many elected officials vocalized support for the profession and its contribution on their local economies.

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Success Story: North Carolina Economic Development District Develops Strong Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies to Shape a Prosperous Future

Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG) logo Robust, integrated regional planning is critical for successful economic development. The Centralina Economic Development Commission (CEDC), a 501(c)3 nonprofit affiliated with the Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG), covers a nine-county area around Charlotte, North Carolina. The entity, which serves as an EDA-designated Economic Development District (EDD), works to promote a diversified and innovative regional economic base, advocate for sustainable growth, support job development through expansion as well as retention and recruitment of business and industry. Central to the accomplishment of this mission is the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

“CCOG and CEDC committed to design [the CEDS] plan as a guide for the entire region,” said Ron Smith, CCOG Executive Director. “Business executives, students, workers and all our communities should find value in the strategic content, data and goals of the Prosperity for Greater Charlotte CEDS.”

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Highlight: Ground is Broken on the Entrepreneur’s Sandbox Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Entrepreneur's Sandbox Facility in Honolulu, Hawaii in April 2018 To young children, a sandbox is a shallow box in the ground partly filled with sand to play in. In the world of high-tech business, a sandbox is a virtual space in which new or untested software can be run securely. In Hawaii, the Entrepreneur’s Sandbox is an EDA/Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) partnership that attracted private investment to provide the tools, programs and environment new entrepreneurs need to start and grow their businesses. The Sandbox is expected to help diversify the State of Hawaii’s economy and, when completed, the facility will be an innovation center where citizens can bring their ideas to life and learn to build products and develop creative media.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Doug Lynott, Director of Economic Development Integration, U.S. Economic and Development Administration (EDA)

Doug Lynott, Director of Economic Development Integration, U.S. Economic and Development Administration (EDA). I serve as the first-ever Director of Economic Development Integration (EDI) at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). EDA 's mission is to "lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy." The mission of EDI is to support locally-identified priorities for regional economic diversification, growth and prosperity by increasing access to opportunity, facilitating enhanced collaboration, and reducing administrative burdens. Specifically, my job is to lead in the development and implementation of policies and methods that make it easier for:

  • Prospective applicants to successfully identify, apply for and manage multiple federal economic development grants and loans; and
  • Federal agencies with economic development resources to co-invest these in support of multi-faceted economic development projects to produce higher impact and overall benefit to local and regional economies.
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